Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena was established by Ven. Walane Sri Siddhartha Maha Thera in the year 1841. When Maha Thera was at Siddhattharama temple Walana, Panadura, he was invited by some pious devotees Don Prolis Lekam Ralahami, Don Philip de Silva Epa Appuhami and Jayasuriya Aracchige Tedonis Perera Appuhamy of Ratmalana to observe rainy retreat at Ratmalana. A block of land was offered to him and in this land a small Kuti was built as a mark of a temple. Ven. Walane Maha Thera spent most of his time in this humble Kuti until such time proper buildings were established later.
The present ‘Awasa Mandiraya’ which consists of 7 rooms together with the adjoining 21 rooms for students was opened in 1861. For this ceremony, there was a Pirith chanting for three months. Since then the Institute was named “Parama Dhamma Chetiyaramaya”. In the beginning there were only a few students and within a short time it increased up to 17 students and gradually more students entered. Ven. Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera (1827 – 1911), who established Vidyodaya Pirivena Maligakanda, Colombo, and the teacher of many foreign scholars like Mr. T.W. Rhys Davids who pioneered to establish The Pali Text Society in London, Col. Henry Steel Olcott and Ven. Ratmalane Dharmaloka Nayaka Thero (1828 – 1887) who established Vidyalankara Pirivena at Kelaniya were two of many brilliant students of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena.
Ven. Suriyagoda Sri Sumangala (1879-1939), the first Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka to obtain a B. Lit degree in English medium from the University of Oxford, England also the Pali Teacher of Dr. Paul Victor Ernst Dahlke (Famous Actor in German Cinema) who involved in the propagation of Buddhism in Germany
and Ven. Vidurupola Siri Piyatissa Mahanayaka Thera (1888-1954), who won the Pandit degree of oriental studies together with a golden plate for his erudition in three languages: Sinhala, Pali and Sanskrit, were also great students of this Pirivena.
Ven. Walane Sri Siddhartha Maha Thera passed away in 1868. His successor was Ven. Walane Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera. In 1915, the then Director of Education Mr. J. Harward Proposed for a grant for the Pirivena Education. The grant was launched by allocating funds to this Pirivena and the Ananda Pirivena Kitulampitiya, Galle.
On the 7th of January 1911, during the time of the Ven. Walane Sri Dharmmananda Maha Thera, the name “Parama Dhamma Chetiyaramaya” was changed to “Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivena”.
One of the great disciples of Ven. Walane Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera was Ven. Walane Sri Satthissara Thera who became the chief incumbent in 1942. During this period the Cambodian King arrived for the opening ceremony of the renovated Dhamma sala(preaching hall). Resetting of the Menik Pilimaya (statue of gem) in the current Vihara building also took place in this period. This historic statue of gem embedded with Relics which was a work by King Dutugemunu was brought to the temple from Kumburulena, Kurunegala. Ven. Satthissara Thera is the one who started Pirivena Teachers Training School at this premise, which was the first of such schools in Sri Lanka. After his great service Walane Satthissara Thera passed away in 1960.
Ven. Dr. Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera took over the duties of the temple since then. Most devotees believe that this is a golden Era of the Pirivena. Ven. Wipulasara was a well-known Artist and a sculptor and gained fame in the island and outside as well. He has sculpted Buddha’s statues for many well-known places in the country and abroad. He was able to hold Exhibitions in Soviet Russia and China in the years 1961 and 1963 respectively. He has gained many awards and titles from various countries too. In 1984 he was awarded the “Kalasoori Merit Award” by the Government of Sri Lanka for this great service.
It was he who decorated the special stage for the Pope, when he visited Sri Lanka in 1997. During his tenure a meditation hall cum Simamalaka, a library, a conference hall, a dining hall, a new shrine room and the beautiful gateway were established in the premises. Especially the name “Parama Dhamma Chetiya” (P.D.C) was made famous abroad by Ven. Dr. Mapalagama Wipulasara Maha Thera.
After Ven. Dr. Mapalagama Wipulasara Thera passed away in the year 2000, his disciple Ven. Madapatha Dhammasara Thera was appointed as chief incumbent of the P.D.C. During his tenure re-establishment of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Conservation Board took place in order to meet the expenses of monthly utility bills and also to support the maintenance cost of the buildings. The construction of New Bodhiprakara and 28 Buddha shrines enhanced with golden fence also took place in this period. Rev. Dhammasara Nayaka Thera passed away in 13th September 2015 at the age of 54 due to ill health. Then Rev. Maitipe Wimalasara Thera who was a disciple of Rev. Mapalagama Vipulasara Nayaka Thera was appointed as chief incumbent of the temple. Wimalasara Thera was engaged in Dhamma propagation at Los Angeles USA and prior to that serve as the Chief monk at Buddhagaya center. Today it is an International Buddhist Institute which teaches Buddhism, Pali, Sanskrit, Sinhala and English etc. Mainly for novice Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka and abroad. At present Chief Incumbent Ven. Wimalasara Nayaka Thera with the assistance of other bhikkhus in the temple and with the full cooperation of Temple Committee and the Conservation Board manages and maintains this historically important Buddhist institute.